The Oklahoma Craft Beer Summit was held on August 11 at the Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City, Okla. The daylong event was attended by about 150 brewers and industry trade members, as well as some exhibiting trade members.
The event hit the ground running with a discussion on the upcoming changes to the Oklahoma state liquor laws, which is a big topic right now. Oklahoma recently passed a significant overhaul of its state laws. Taking effect on October 1, grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores will now be allowed to sell beer with up to 9% ABV, a huge jump from the previous limit of 3.2% ABW (alcohol by weight) or 4% ABV. Along with this comes the ability to purchase cold beer at retail and the elimination of the “fourth tier” of the business, which separated breweries from distributors. All of these changes were discussed by a panel, including Wes Alexander of Marshall Brewing, Sean Mossman of COOP Ale Works and Oklahoma state senator Stephanie Bice.
After the insightful discussion on the October laws, Senator Bice was recognized with the “Champion of Craft” award by the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma for her work on these important legislative changes.
Next up was a panel called, “State of the Brewnion,” which included myself, John Anthony from Mother’s Brewing in Springfield, Mo., Matt Sullins of Iron Monk Brewing in Stillwater, Okla., and Adrienne Jaskula of Stonecloud Brewing in Oklahoma City, Okla. We discussed the state of the overall U.S. craft beer industry and I followed up the panel with my own talk on the meaning of quality for today’s brewer and the craft brewing industry as a whole.
After lunch was an interesting industry discussion with the owners/founders of Austin Beerworks in Austin, Texas. Their Q&A-type session provided a good look at their unique perspective on the state of the industry, as well as how they are working with the Texas Craft Brewers Guild to update Texas liquor laws.
Finally, the day rounded out with two more panel discussions: the first on “Innovation and Experimentation in Brewing” and the other on hops.
Between all of the great discussions was a little time for fun and beer enjoyment. The whole event was broken up by short beer samplings provided by a number of different Oklahoma brewers, as well as trivia hosted by Geeks Who Drink.